July 11, 20201, Tulsa- All good things come to a pause, to be continued later. After a leisurely breakfast and final survey of my items, I bid farewell to son and daughter-in-law, with the common knowledge that we are always welcome in one another’s homes-as it should be with family.
My first stop, north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, was in the city of Sherman, southern gateway to the Lake Texoma area. Sherman is important to me for two reasons: A riot of white tenant farmers and townspeople occurred on May 9, 1930-in reaction to a black labourer’s having attacked and raped the white wife of a man who owed him money. The labourer, one George Hughes, freely admitted his misdeeds and was initially subjected to due process of law. A mob soon gathered, and succeeded in breaching the Grayson County Courthouse, chasing everyone except Hughes out of the building and cutting into a vault, in which he was hiding, then killing the man and treating his corpse atrociously. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/sherman-riot-of-1930
This occurred nine years after the Greenwood Massacre that took place in Tulsa (1921), and the Sherman rioters took a page from those in Tulsa, and burned the business district in Sherman’s Black neighbourhood to the ground. The Sherman case, however exacerbated by conditions resulting from the Great Depression, stained the good name of the town for several years. To be fair, it was only one of nearly two dozen such riots, in every part of the country-not just in the South. Modern Sherman has largely moved past the nightmare, but there are remnants of the past two centuries, including the Confederate Monument outside the present Grayson County Courthouse. My personal hope is that such monuments serve as reminders of where we went wrong, as a people, and that no person, of any racial or ethnic group, ever again seeks to circumvent the law-even in, or especially in, cases of personal injustice. Vengeance always claims a great deal of innocent lives.
The second reason for my stopping in Sherman was that, ten years ago, a young woman from the town had moved to Prescott, and became a friend-whom I advised on several occasions, whilst she worked as a server in a couple of area restaurants. With encouragement from me and others, she moved to Tempe and entered Arizona State University. I have lost contact with Summer, but have never forgotten her gentle spirit and determined drive. In her honour, I stopped in for lunch, at Old Iron Post, which appears to be Sherman’s answer to Raven Cafe. The ambiance, and the fare, did not disappoint,
There was one more stop for me, before leaving Texas: The Birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, in Denison. The small, unassuming town, near the Oklahoma state line, helped form the character of one of America’s greatest generals, who became a fairly good president.
The building itself was closed, but as with the Birthplace of Harry S. Truman, in May, I was able to get a few photos of the exterior and the grounds.
That was it for meandering for the day. I continued on towards this fascinating, and often troubled, industrial and commercial center of northeast Oklahoma, and locus of the Greenwood Massacre of 1921. It is to Greenwood that my own focus will be drawn, tomorrow morning.